Ever year my family and I head down to Pawley’s Island, South Carolina to our little slice of heaven, The Oceanfront Litchfield Inn. My husband and I actually discovered the Litchfield Inn almost ten years ago when I booked a surprise trip for us for our 6-month anniversary (gosh, that seems like a lifetime ago). Funny story, when we pulled into the parking lot all those years ago, I cried. I cried because when we pulled up, this place was nothing like I expected. From the outside, the hotel didn’t look like much and plus at this time they were doing so much construction so it just looked…bad. I felt so horrible, I had booked us this week of relaxation at a place that just wasn’t what I expected for us. My husband, being the sweet man that he is, told me not to worry and that it would be wonderful. He was so right. The rooms are beautiful and unique. The staff are some of the friendliest people you’ll ever meet. The restaurants and bars on site are fantastic. Fast forward all these years later and you can still find us here for our summer vacations. Anyway! All of that to say, we love it there.
We were especially excited this year because it was going to be the first year we went on our trip with our little guy who is now a full-blown toddler. Wyatt has just turned 15 months at the time and I knew it was going to be so much fun to watch him play on the beach.
However, I will say this: Going to the beach with your husband is one thing, going to the beach with your baby is another thing, and going to the beach with your toddler is a thing in a whole new realm. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy my time there as a family because I did, more than I can begin to express. I think I realized though that I have a problem with building things up in my head, visualizing exactly what a moment is going to look like, and then stressing out when things don’t play out the way I thought they would. In other words, I need to be better at going with the flow and just rolling with it.
Let me start at the beginning of this trip! So, we left for Pawley’s Island around 9:00 AM on Saturday morning. We were only staying Saturday to Monday so we wanted to get to the beach early enough to be able to enjoy a few hours in the sun. Wyatt was a sweet angel the entire road trip. He slept some and watched a movie on the iPad that we rigged up to the back of the passenger seat.
We got to the beach around noon and went straight out. Here’s where things get a little bit funny, haha. Wyatt LOVED the sand and the water, something I was very happy about because from what I had heard from friends, it can be hit or miss. My parents were coming down a few hours later so we had some time to ourselves just as a family. I told myself this was going to be a “no-phone weekend” aside from pictures I was taking for myself (that’s why you won’t notice a ton of photos in this post). I could have taken pictures and videos of his first time seeing the ocean but I wanted to really be in that moment and not worry about taking the perfect pictures or videos. Anyway, we had no toys for him to play with yet! We were going to go the next morning to get some but that was a super silly move on our part. When my parents arrived we all spent some time down on the beach chasing Wyatt down to the water and back about 100 times. It was absolutely adorable and as much as I just wished he would sit in the sand and play I just loved watching him. I watched him in those moments “toddle” around and couldn’t help but feel so very blessed that this was my life and that this was my boy. Wyatt is so full of life and energy and I just adore the little personality on that kid.
After a few hours at the beach it was time for a nap and also getting close to dinner time. Tyler and I went up to the room to give Wyatt and bath and lay him down and while he was sleeping, Tyler and I went out on the the balcony of our room with some cocktails and just spent some alone time together. My parents stayed down on the beach and Tyler told me I should go back down and spend a little time with them (he knows how important my relationship is with my parents). I went down to the water and had a few cocktails with my mom who, by the way, is my best friend and absolute saving grace. She just knows me so well and she could see how stressed out I was earlier when Wyatt wouldn’t sit still, was fussing, and just being a toddler. She told me I needed to relax, in the most kind way ever. She said to me,
“Casey, you had this vision of how you thought this beach trip was going to go. You thought Wyatt would sit and play in the sand, nap on the beach with no problems, sit still, and you could just relax. And it’s not playing out that way so it’s stressing you out and you have to just roll with it.”
I needed that. She always knows what to say to me. That night we got ready and went down to the Cabana Cafe for dinner, a little beach bar with the best view and the best food. I was a little nervous that Wyatt was going to be a bit much at the restaurant but it was hands down the best dining experience ever. I have to give that little guy the benefit of the doubt sometimes. We had such a great time, Wyatt was laughing and talking up a storm. He ate probably more than I did and the entire family had a great evening.
The next day was Father’s Day so we woke up early and went out to our favorite breakfast spot in Pawley’s Island, Eggs Up Grill. It was another great meal but we could tell Wyatt was getting a little sleepy towards the end. We got back to the hotel and Tyler, my dad, and my mom went down to the beach to get everything set up while I stayed up in the room for about an hour for Wyatt to take a nap. After he woke up we got our sunscreen on and went down the the beach! This day was a lot better. Wyatt ran, played some, and the looks on my parents faces while they chased him up and down the beach were incredible.
About 3:00 Wyatt was ready for a nap so we packed up our stuff and went up to the room. While Wyatt napped Tyler and I took showers and got ready for dinner. This night at dinner was um, not like the first night. It was the exact opposite. Wyatt was over tired, over stimulated, and just not having it. It was exact proof that for every good night, there’s a bad night. My parents, being the angels that they are, offered to take Wyatt for the evening so Tyler and I could enjoy some time together (they were staying for the entire week). It was much needed, we grabbed drinks from the cabana bar, went back to our room and sat on the balcony just enjoying the view and reflecting on what a great trip this was.
Here are a few things I learned taking my toddler to the beach for the first time:
We brought his Pack ‘n Play and we were pretty nervous about how he would sleep in the room. The good news is he did great! I think the day really tuckered him out so at night he was just exhausted. We slept with the balcony doors open so the sounds of the ocean I think really soothed him. Also, if you haven’t heard of “Little Baby Bum” on Netflix I highly suggest you take a peek. Soft lullabies, bright colors, and for some reason, completely soothing for getting a toddler to settle down. Wyatt slept through the entire night both nights, although I was nervous he would wake up screaming. Even on the night that THE FIRE ALARM WENT OFF AT 3 AM, that little guy didn’t wake up until he heard Tyler and I talking. It was a relief to say the least.
I thought Wyatt would sit calmly and play with his sand toys under the shade of our umbrella but no. Wyatt is at an age where he just wants to run and explore and I was so not prepared for this! Most of the day was spent taking shifts between my husband, my parents, and myself chasing him up and down the beach. When he wasn’t making a mad dash for the ocean he could be found running up to practically any speaker for a dance party. He was quite a hit. He didn’t act too interested in the sand toys but again I think he’s still too young to understand how to “play”. My advice? Have no expectations. Just roll with it, this was the biggest lesson in motherhood I have learned thus far!
My Best Advice:
- Go into it understanding that this is NOT going to be the same beach trip you’re used to. However, the memories you will make are beyond any you’ve ever had before.
- Bring everything to the beach. Even if you find yourself saying, “I’m not bringing that I doubt he’ll need it.” Bring it.
- It’s going to be impossible to keep sand out of their mouth but I brought a spray bottle with fresh water in it so I could spritz off his hands in case they got really messy.
- Disposable placemats from Walmart or a silicone placemat for restaurants are a life-saver, I linked them in case you wanted to purchase!
- We bought a pop-up beach tent that could be used as a baby pool as well! Wyatt didn’t sit still long enough for this to be used but next year, when he is a little more interested in playing, it will be great! We got this one from Amazon and it comes with a carrying case and folds right up for easy clean up!
- Freeze water bottles and put them in the cooler so by the time you need to fill up a sippy cup the water is still pretty cold!
- Take pictures. I know saying this seems pretty obvious but what I mean to say is take all of the pictures. Don’t just take the pictures that are flattering enough to be on instagram. Take the candid shots, the shots where everything isn’t perfect. You don’t have to share them online with the world (like I mentioned, we took a ton of pictures for the sake of taking them not for Instagram). You will regret not taking pictures or only taking ones that will look cute on your feed. Come back with tons of photos despite what your hair is doing.
- Don’t let the stress get to you! Enjoy this time, these are the moments you won’t be able to get back. Live in the moment, and enjoy your little family.
I hope this post maybe resonated with some of you or helped prepare others who are getting ready for their first time taking a toddler to the beach! Until next time friends 🙂